SPRUCE, Michigan – You could say that golf course design was in their DNA. Brothers Bruce and Clem Wolfrom, the designers and shapers of White Pine National Golf Resort in Spruce, MI come from hardy stock. Their father, Clarence Wolfrom was a longstanding superintendent at Maple Lane Golf Course in Sterling Heights, MI, and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. He also helped found the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation and assisted many turf professionals to get their start in the industry.
Bruce Wolfrom admits he has always been intrigued by the possibility of taming Mother Nature. Before building White Pine National, Bruce served as Superintendent of Treetops in Gaylord, MI, and Clem was hired as superintendent of the private Detroit Golf Club.
The biggest challenge the two faced in realizing their dream of building and owning a golf course was finding the right piece of property. Their goal was to find land that was “naturally laid out” and had the right soil and elevation. They looked at hundreds of sites and finally found a 400-acre site located in Hubbard Lake, MI. The land featured majestic white pine and oak trees, high terrain, and light sandy loam soil. The brothers purchased the property in 1991 and, after 21 months of construction and renovation, opened White Pine National Golf Resort in September 1992.
At 6,762 yards (73.0/127), White Pine National isn’t going to overwhelm many longball hitters. Move up to the White tees if you’re looking to simply enjoy yourself and have a good time: and the yardage drops significantly to 5,896 yards (68.6/118). The Bentgrass fairways and greens feature a lot of undulation and the greens run at a 10 on the stimpmeter year-round. Four sets of tees provide suitable distances for every level of player.
With all of the trees, sand bunkers, and smallish greens to keep your shots honest, the one thing you won’t find out here are water hazards, and with good reason. Bruce, who also serves as the Golf Course Superintendent at White Pine National, says that the course does not require any type of drainage system. Because of its high terrain and what Mother Nature has already provided, the turf is protected from disease and damage caused by heavy downpours and flooding. The course has only been closed once because of heavy rains since it opened, and that was only for a few hours.
The first four holes consist of 2 par 5s and 2 par 3s and can help you get off to a fast start. Or not! The course follows the contours of the surrounding terrain and the greens have been placed in very natural settings. As you make your way around the layout, you’ll be presented with shots around and through majestic hardwood and pine trees. Don’t be surprised when you see deer grazing in the fairways, songbirds singing a tune for you, and eagles soaring overhead. It’s golf the way nature intended.
Whether it’s a quick warm-up before their round or some solid practice time, golfers from all over the area come to White Pine National to take advantage of their practice facilities. In addition to 3 target greens on the driving range, there’s a practice putting green and a 9-hole putting course to test your skills with the flat stick. Be sure to loosen up before heading over to the first tee!
Most Memorable Hole: Number 12 is far and away my favorite hole on the entire layout and is one of the most unique driving holes I have ever played. For starters, it’s a long hole – 402 yards from the White Tees – with tall pine trees scattered throughout the landing area. If you can get through the trees off the tee, you’ll be left with a long, downhill approach shot into one of the course’s largest greens. Get used to it; you’ll also encounter a tall pine tree in the middle of the 18th fairway!
Favorite Par 3: White Pine National’s second par 5 is followed by the second par 3. Number 4 plays 132 yards according to the scorecard yet it is significantly longer because it plays uphill. The green sits well above the fairway and anything hit short will likely funnel down to a collection area. The two-tiered green is long and narrow and anything over the green or in the bunker behind it spells trouble.
Favorite Par 4: Number 16 is a fun par 4 and a great risk/reward hole Hitting it straight off the tee can pay large dividends. It’s a very narrow driving hole with trees on either side and at 251 yards from the White Tees, it is reachable. Once you reach the green and look back, you’ll notice that the hole plays downhill and that the green is surrounded by bunkers. Avoid the bunker off the tee and you should be able to post a good score.
Number 11 is a scenic par 4, and a strong runner-up for Favorite Par 4. It’s a dogleg left that plays 371 yards from the White Tees. A good drive down the middle of the fairway will leave a mid-iron into a very wide green with little depth to it. The bunkers short of the green add to the aesthetics of this golf hole. The green has two distinct tiers and if you are putting uphill to a left pin, be sure to hit it hard enough or it’s coming back to you.
Favorite Par 5: Number 3 is the second par 5 at White Pine National. This dogleg left plays 461 yards from an elevated tee box downhill to an awaiting fairway. You’ll need to be careful with your layup shot and playing it out to the right is a safe bet. On the left side of the landing area is a lot of mounding and bunkering that can add a lot of difficulty to the hole. The bunkers start about 80 yards from the green. Two successful shots will leave a short pitch shot into the green and set up a good birdie opportunity.
The RoadHouse Restaurant is a great place to unwind after your round with your favorite libation or a delicious meal. RoadHouse is open for breakfast too and their Pulled Pork Hash and Eggs are delicious as is the breakfast flatbread. Lunch and dinner selections include your usual burgers and sandwiches as well as such novelties as Smoked Chicken, Smokehouse Pork and Peppers, and a Ribeye Steak. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to be pleased.
White Pine National provides seasoned golfers with a formidable challenge and beginners with a great place to learn the game. They offer lodging on a limited basis in some tremendous local homes.